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Resource Grabbing in Asia

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The scramble for land and land-related resources by powerful actors engenders various resistance and challenges by peoples’ organizations, social movements, and activists committed to the advancement of the rural poor’s fundamental rights to the natural ‘commons’ and livelihood resources. Southeast Asia boasts of diverse and numerous movements and organizations committed to social and economic justice. In this presentation, Mary Ann shares some of the trends around land and resource grabbing-- including the dominant governance model: mechanisms, actors, experiences, and impacts, that is ‘transforming’ rural Southeast Asia, and resistance struggles, including key demands and alternative perspectives/visions.

Mary Ann Manahan is a program officer with Focus on the Global South-Philippines Programme. She joined Focus in 2003 and works on the Reclaiming the Commons programme, with focus on land, water, social and environmental justice and gender issues. Her work combines activism, research, advocacy and campaigning

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Resource Grabbing in Asia

  1. 1. Is Asia for Sale?: Resource Grabbing, Investments & People’s Campaigns in Southeast Asia Mary Ann Manahan, Focus on the Global South September 15, 2014
  2. 2. Outline • Framework: Emerging Green Consensus • Context • Drivers of Investments in Land: ASEAN Economic Integration • Trends: Enclosures and Territorialization • People’s Campaigns and Struggles
  3. 3. Land, Water, ‘Green’ Grabbing and Control of Commons UNEP’s Green Economy: Nature as Capital multiple crises caused by misallocation of ‘capital’; sets the stage for the creation of markets where nature and its ecosystem functions will be priced
  4. 4. CONTEXT
  5. 5. • Resource grabbing not a new phenomenon • In recent years, increase attention on new wave of foreign acquisitions of agricultural lands/ global land grab in global South due to media reports • Triggered by complex and interrelated crises in food, finance, energy and climate--- revaluation of rush to control land • Mantra: for development, food and water security, agricultural investment, and energy security.
  6. 6. ASEAN Economic Community: A Driver of Land Investments in Asia
  7. 7. (1) ASEAN FDI Record level FDI in 2010 amounting to US$75.8 billion compared to US$37.8 billion in 2009
  8. 8. (2) Sectoral Composition
  9. 9. Where is the money going?
  10. 10. (3) Global Value Chains  Increasing pressure on raw materials (esp. for mining)- resource wars trigger greater competition; leads to increase price of raw materials  Agriculture Value Chain  Example CP operations
  11. 11. The parent company of CPF, CP Group is one of the first Asian multinational companies with revenue reaching $33 billion yearly. It has subsidiaries in 15 countries in the world engaged in several businesses, including agribusiness, food processing, retail, telecommunications and property development.
  12. 12. Growth in the Mekong Region Country GDP Growth Main Drivers of Growth/Slump Cambodia 6.8 % Garments and Footwear exports Tourism Lao PDR 7.8 % Hydropower, Mining, manufacturing Tourism Myanmar 5.5% Investments in hydropower, gas and oil Thailand 0.1 % Effect of widespread flooding; slump in manufacturing Vietnam 5.9 % Expansion in services; Tourism
  13. 13. Development Plans
  14. 14. Policy Context Country No. of signed BITS (as of 2012) Brunei 6 Cambodia 21 Indonesia 63 Lao PDR 23 Malaysia 67 Myanmar 6 Philippines 35 SIngapore 41 Thailand 39 Vietnam 58 TOTAL 359
  15. 15. Investment Policy ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA)  A single investment agreement that provides clearer interaction of relevant provisions: e.g. liberalization and protection
  16. 16. Regional Economic Integration  ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint: Free flow of investments in AEC  A free and open investment regime is key to enhancing ASEAN’s competitiveness in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) as well as intra-ASEAN investment Investment is a core element of the goal to establish ASEAN as a Single Market and Production Base
  17. 17. Integration and Investments In fact, for CPF Philippines, the timing was just right. “We will be ahead when others decide to come to the Philippines” -- Pinij Kungvankij, vice chair of Charoen Pokphand Foods (CPF) Philippines Corp. ASEN integration was a major consideration when the company decided to start infusing investments into the Philippines last year.
  18. 18. WHAT ARE HAPPENING TO LAND AND OTHER RESOURCES?
  19. 19. Enclosures
  20. 20. • New frontiers of resource control : new enclosures for agriculture, mining, forest exploitation, conservation, national parks, real estate, townships, extraction, industry, etc. • “Green grabbing” /Payment for Ecological Services– enclosures with ostensible environmental aims Kratie, Cambodia
  21. 21. Enclosures are detrimental to those who rely on what we call as ‘commons’, esp. poor and marginalized women • threatens access to and control of land and natural resources including customary rights to water, forests and ecosystems • Affects people’s livelihoods and ability to feed themselves and the community, especially of low-income and poor rural women
  22. 22. A rubber plantation owned by a Vietnamese Company in a community forest What happened to the the people? They lost their sources of food, water and fuel and their access to their community forest.
  23. 23. • Employment opportunities? For whom? Case of Kampongcham, in the subdistrict/commune of Chomkravean
  24. 24. Other Issues • Embedded in struggles of farmers, IPs, rural women for access to land/land rights • Myth/Creation of “frontiers”—newly available land (newly valuable land) for export production • Accompanied by militarization and harassment/violation of human rights • Differentiated impacts– across class, gender and ethnicity
  25. 25. Territorialization
  26. 26. Power of the State: Eminent Domain • Creation of new territories for investment through ceasefires, relocation of villages from upland to lowlands (as in Laos, VN, Burma, Indonesia) • Burma—“ceasefire capitalism”—alliances with Chinese and other Asian investors and Singaporean banks to move from jade and timber economies to large scale industrial agricultural economy (big support from China—esp. in Northern Burma)
  27. 27. DAWEI Source: TERRA, 2012
  28. 28. Conceptual Plan of Dawei Mega Project 204.5 square kilometer the fifth biggest Industrial Estate in the world and the biggest one of Thailand. (30 sq KM) Source: TERRA, 2012
  29. 29. Source: TERRA, 2012
  30. 30. Peoples’ Campaigns to Reclaim the Commons Community defence struggles Land occupation / positioning / cultivation has often been used as a legitimate strategy for communities Ensuring the right to information as in the majority of land deals, local communities are kept in the dark. Land rights/agrarian reform/ resource rights struggles
  31. 31. Women at the forefront of resource rights struggles • As actors and leaders mobilizing against processes that exclude them (despite criminalization and harassment) “I live here. I have rights and I am working with the women here so we won’t have to move. I will keep on fighting here” - Kun Cha Tha who quit her job selling rice to devote her time to protesting 90% of the protestors and leaders in the Boeung Kak lake are women Cambodia’s Boeung Kak Lake land grabbing case Source: Reuters/Samrang Pring
  32. 32. Local struggles Source of Photos: Judy Pasimio
  33. 33. In reclaiming their ancestral lands/domains Delsa Justo, Ati Chieftain who led the land occupation of their Delsa Justo, Ati Chieftain who led the land occupation of their ancestral lands in tourist destination, Boracay ancestral lands in tourist destination, Boracay
  34. 34. In asserting the Right to Self- Determination of Indigenous Peoples Source of Photos: Judy Pasimio
  35. 35. Summary  Southeast Asia continues to be a high growth region  SEA in the global value chain- traditional roles but also looking for new drivers of growth  Economic integration is driving new investments including in agriculture, land and natural resources  There is a push to reform policies including investment policies and land and environment policies to facilitate more investments  Peasants and indigenous communities continue to defend their lands and resources through various resistance struggles
  36. 36. Thank you very much for listening!

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